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July 3, 2019

1.16 Season Finale-Reflection with Miriam Kuykendall and Jimmy Chrismon

1.16 Season Finale-Reflection with Miriam Kuykendall and Jimmy Chrismon

This week the script is flipped!  Educator, colleague, and personal friend Miriam Kuykendall takes over the podcast to talk to Jimmy and reflect on the first season.  Reflective practice is essential to good teaching, good theatre, and good podcasting!  This is the final episode for the first season.  THED Talks will return in mid-August with new episodes to get your academic year off to a great start!


Jimmy’s Recommended Resources:

Basic Drama Projects from Perfection Learning

Transcript

Miriam K.:

You're listening to the season finale of the THED Talks with Miriam Kuykendall. THED Talks is a podcast for theatre educators and theatre education students. Hi, I'm Miriam Kuykendall, theatre educator at avid listener. Each week you are brought stories and interviews from experienced k through 12 theatre teachers, current theatre education majors and professors of theatre education to warm your heart, renew your faith in teaching and provide resources to better your practice in your theatre classroom. Not the voice you were expecting to hear. That's because this week we are turning the tables on Dr Jimmy Chrismon and taking the time for him to reflect on this past season. Whether he wants to or not. You may be wondering what makes me qualified for this interview. I know, I wondered the same thing. I think this is because I've spent the past 11 years in and out of the classroom with k through 12 students and even longer as Dr Chrismon's friend, we've been able to have honest chats in order to better our classrooms, productions and lives and that is what is bringing me here. Boom.

Jimmy Chrismon:

She wanted to take over my podcast. So here we are.

Miriam K.:

I practiced really hard.

Jimmy Chrismon:

And you did wonderful.

Miriam K.:

Thank you. Thank you very much. I wanted to do you proud. I know you've worked really hard on this and I didn't want to let you down. I know in my classroom and in my rehearsals, and I know for many of my fellow educators and for yourself that reflection is a very big thing in all of our lives. I think a lot of what I've been hearing on this podcast is that it's not about so much the product, but the process and how we get there, and I know what we're hearing is the final product, which is very different than what a lot of us are used to. And I think that that's why this reflection is so important and I think it's important for our listeners to hear what this has meant to you and everything that you're getting out of this and how we're going to take this forward into next season, which I know I'm personally looking forward to and I hope everybody else is. So that is kind of where we're at. I think a lot of the questions I'm gonna ask you, my students are probably accustomed to hearing, I'm sure your students are accustomed to hearing the very same age old questions we ask after every performance we ever see. And the very first question I'm gonna Start with, is the age old ever important What do you think what? Well, this past season,

Jimmy Chrismon:

first of all, me getting my equipment hooked up and doing this, that went well because I'm not the biggest tech guy, but I did a lot of research and um , watched a lot of youtube videos on how to set this up. So I'm pretty proud of that. Um , I, I think I've also, I have worked to continue to better what I'm doing. Um, cause I , uh, I'm proud of everything I've done, but I, I constantly want to get better. Um, so hearing feedback from, from people I trust and like you who I know I can go to or you're going to call me and say we need to think about that. Um , I think that that's been very good and it's been very good for me. I think also something that has gone really well is , um, and I've, I've noticed it over over the interviews that I've done and then, and then the ones that I've been working on over the summer to , for the fall, just my confidence and um, my comfortable, my in my level of comfortability is that even a word? My level of being comfortable, I don't know of talking to people because I hate small talk and I, I'm, I'm, I consider myself very socially awkward. Uh, so pushing myself out of my comfort zone , um, I think has been a good thing for me and it's been very helpful for me. And then I think, I think I've achieved what I wanted to do with, with , um, with , with capturing the stories of some of the people who I've looked up to. And then I've , I've totally branched out what I, the , the, the people that I know and the contacts I've made are all across the country.

Miriam K.:

Why do you think your confidence level has grown? Like what about that has changed for you from the first episode to the last one?

Jimmy Chrismon:

I think I've been able to, I mean I keep a set of, of questions that I definitely want to get asked during the interviews in front of me. Um, but I, I think I've become more comfortable just listening and uh , letting the conversations kind of go where they go and probe a little deeper when, when, when that can happen. I think I can still work on that, but I do think , um , my listening and carrying, trying to take the conversation even further and getting more out of the person of information that can help people. Does that make any sense what I just said?

Miriam K.:

I think it does. It's the amount of taking in and being able to fly by the seat of your pants. But I think a lot of that comes into how you view the classroom, if that makes sense. That, you know, you're watching what your students need, don't need and you're not spending 20 minutes on something that they got in the first five because that's what you had in your lesson that day. And I think that coming through with these interviews, it's the same kind of thing of you're taking in, even though it's a one on one kind of thing, it's still a learning opportunity and I think that's something that we're able to hear in the first couple of episodes to the end that your voice as the leader of the conversation is getting stronger, that you're guiding it in the way that it needs to go versus, I think a couple of the conversations at the beginning were more conversations versus interviews and I think that change is very apparent that you're guiding and leading and making sure that everybody's getting the information that they want in a direction that they want and some of that may be editing, but I think combined altogether , that's clear that that transition and change is happening, which I think is extremely positive. I think that's another thing that I've really enjoyed about listening is it does feel like you're the third person in on the conversation on a coffee date and you just, you want to share your stories and your experiences too. And that ease of listening versus, I think in some of the earlier episodes I, ah , I felt like a third wheel versus like a silent party. And so I've really enjoyed when you've had conversations with people that have made me want to share my story too , like, Oh yeah, that , that happened to me too. Or Oh, I have something that's kind of like that and wanting to interject in the conversation. And I find those moments easier to listen to than where there are times where I'm like, oh, I don't feel included in this conversation and now I don't want to listen to it. And that, that hasn't happened nearly as often as I feel like I just made that sound. But like that's, that's the moments that I, I like the best where I feel like I'm on the coffee date with everybody else. What do you think is not going so well in this season? Things that, I mean those are the phrases that I use in my performance reflections to my students. What went well, why, what didn't go well? Why? And I'm not sure what didn't go well is the right way to phrase that. Um, what, what needs improvement?

Jimmy Chrismon:

For one in terms of sound quality, I've been really working hard in my latest interviews to really learn more about my sound equipment that I have here and, and getting a better balance between voices back and forth. I think in the, in some of the, in some of the episodes like the interviewees are really quiet and I'm really loud and um, I'm trying to get a better balance with that. So I think that's just coming with me, getting more familiar with what I'm doing and , and practicing with it I think is getting better. But I, there's definitely great room for improvement cause I want the sound quality to be something that people enjoy listening to. Um, in terms of the content, I think, I think these first 16 people that I've talked to , uh, this season have really given me , uh, cause there's a lot of common themes that pop up in all the interviews. Um, there's , uh , there's some things that kind of overlap, but I think it's given me kind of some direction of where I want to go coming back in August and , and kind of the format of the show I think. I think , I think what I have is working and it's good. I think I do want some, some other things coming up. Uh, like I want like a feature section with my students , um, I want to , um, like maybe just like a five, 10 minute conversation with one of them. I want to , when I have student teachers, I want to do a student teacher check in , um, and have just a quick, you know , check in with them on the podcast . And so I don't know. I'm , I'm , I'm, there's just a new things I want to try and see how they work. Um , and then I've got the listener survey that I've gotten a lot of great feedback on and um , I, I'm , I'm looking to make some good changes.

Miriam K.:

I do agree with that content from former students, current students, theatre education. I found, and I know I'm slightly biased because I do love Alex Faulkner a lot. We can just get that out of the way. But I found their interview so informative as to what a classroom space is to a student. And I, a lot of the interviews that you've had with theatre educators, former theatre educators are like, oh, I feel really called out that you just spoke to me on a level that I understand. But hearing from Alex was like, Oh, I knew that this was a space that's being created. I knew that we needed to take care of our students in this kind of way, but oh, this is what they were living through. And I found that, I found that. So just something to sink your teeth into. And I wanted to make those changes myself and my own space and my own classroom to not that I ever felt like I had a terrible classroom , I love my classroom obviously, but these are things to take in and to be better. And I think by having a student who has been removed from the high school classroom to be able to look back and reflect and give you this information with the thought of an adult was very helpful and that they weren't so far removed from the high school classroom that you were like that a connect like I'm not sure I could speak of my days as a high school student. Like I know that the meaning that the classroom had to me and all of these things, but I'm too far gone that the impact isn't the same in the classroom that I had when I was in high school is not the same space that the classroom is now. So that's something I think I would like to hear more from students or as a theatre educator getting ready to have student teachers in your classroom. I don't remember what that feels like anymore.

Jimmy Chrismon:

I think we as theatre teachers and I, I still call myself as a theatre teacher, but like when I, when I was in the classroom, I , I don't recall having those, those kinds of conversations with my kids and with the types of information that we gathered from like Alex's interview and it's , it's stuff that I think I can use even in my classes now and I hope other theatre education professors can gather that. But I also, I think it's important for my students coming through to hear that as well, to think about the, the types of spaces they're creating and for veteran teachers who are currently teaching to, I mean like, like I've said in several episodes, that it's so important to constantly keep learning and keep bettering ourselves

Miriam K.:

Because the world for our students is ever changing. And I know we know that on this like outer level that we always need to be continually learning. But I do think that we forget to stop and pause the world for them is not the same world that we entered the classroom in. And it's ever evolving. And I, I know that we know how important those one on one conversations are, but are we aware of where our students are coming from then? So I do, I do think that that would be a great addition of continuing to check in with current theatre education students and current students in the classroom. I think that would be really helpful. I would, I would enjoy hearing that. I hope, I hope other listeners would enjoy hearing that.

Jimmy Chrismon:

And I, I mean I'm, I'm constantly checking the listener numbers and, and like on my podcast hosting site, I'm constantly checking how many people are listening and where they're listening from and which shows are getting more plays than others. And, and , uh, you know, the , the one interview that I had with one of my students , um, is constantly ranking up there in the top two or three, which surprised me. I mean, I , I, I adore Jack and I think he's a fantastic student, but I didn't know how well people would respond to that. And they, they, they responded really well there. I mean, he's still hanging out up there with like a Tony winner and retired teachers, so I'm like, Alright Jack, good job.

Miriam K.:

I mean, I did . I do think some of that is that behind the scenes feel that as much as we feel like we know our students, we don't, we don't know them. And that information I think is necessary of what, and that affirmation too . I think sometimes we get so lost in all of the things that we're trying to do, that it's, it is nice every now and then to be reminded of, Hey, you created this simple thing that you did for me by just creating a space where I could be myself was so life changing for me. And you didn't, you didn't do anything more than say hello to that student. But, It's life changing and I think we forget that because, oh, I have rehearsal and I have to make the props and I have to do the scenery and who's going to print the programs and all of those things. That just kind of get in the way, I know we kind of touched base on this a little bit. What are other things that you think you're going to do differently for next season? What, what things are getting removed that weren't, weren't working at all or what things need to be expanded on or condensed?

Jimmy Chrismon:

I'm looking to to maybe do some, some themes, and I hate to say the word units but, but themes of, of like I have lots of, lots of teachers have reached out to me that I've been talking to lately, that are Tech theatre teachers. Um, and some really cool suggestions and like the simplest resources that they've been telling me. It's like I, I know I was not a technical theatre person , uh , coming out of college and, and , and I had to teach myself a ton of stuff and I still think I'm a nontechnical theatre person, but like some of these I'm like, ah , why didn't I have that? But I, I think, I think that's a lot of us theatre teachers out there, that are acting and directing heavy and our weaker side is tech. So I'm hearing from some people who that is all they do I think I think is going to be beneficial. So I'm kind of looking at some themes. Um, I still want to really keep focusing on the teacher stories cause I think, I think those are, those are important. And we as theatre teachers, we like to talk about our kids and we like to talk about what we do. And, and that's where some of the, I guess the richest lessons that I've learned over the , the first 15 episodes , um, have come from is , is their stories and their, their experiences and where they struggled and where their kids succeeded in what was most important to them. Um, as far as other things, I don't, I don't know. Uh, I've got another song that I want to, I think throw in , uh , for my theme music. Um, Alex, Alex Hamlin gave me a couple of different songs that I could use and I want to mix it up a little bit. I don't know . Um ,

Miriam K.:

I dunno about that. I'm really, I'm really accustomed to the current music

Jimmy Chrismon:

You're into my Magnetize?

Miriam K.:

I am into Magnetize. I hear that. And I'm like, I'm ready for it. Like it brings me in. I am not, I'm not sure I could handle that change. I'll go with it if that's what you want to do. I mean I support your decisions and all but

Jimmy Chrismon:

well I , I know you and I talk frequently and you give me feedback all the time and I love it and I love you for it. Um, but what are some things that you would like to see different?

Miriam K.:

Hey, listen, whose interview is this? I'm the one with the notes.

Jimmy Chrismon:

Yeah, my notes are not even on the screen. So

Miriam K.:

notes

Jimmy Chrismon:

you've got them. I see them.

Miriam K.:

I think a lot, again, a lot of the things that you and I have discussed already previously is that continuation , um, that flow of a unit, what connects one episode to the next. I really enjoyed the past three episodes with the connection of the pride unit and bringing all of those sides of the story together. Hearing from teachers, hearing from students, hearing lesson opportunities. I think that's been extremely interesting. I haven't listened to the last episode yet because it just came out. Sorry Adam, I love you too. I Apologize. I started to and then I life. Um, but I know that I'm really going to enjoy that episode too because now we're bringing in outside sources, which I think has also been really fabulous. So it was really neat to hear all the sides of, not one story, but all the sides of one picture and getting all of those different ideas in. So in that same vein that you're talking about of of a unit, for lack of a better word, I enjoy that theme. I really do enjoy getting the same consistent closing questions. Your , your ticket out the door, if you will. I know that that's probably something people have talked a lot about in their education classes of this is, but I think as, as educators, as students, we all enjoy those rituals. This, these are the things that happen when I walk into this classroom. These are the things that happen when I listen to this podcast. And I like that sense of ritual of predictability, even though the middle isn't always the same. I know that I'm always going to walk away from this podcast with a resource, with something uplifting, with some new piece of wisdom that I haven't heard before and I know I'm always going to have those things leaving. And of course I always walk away with more things, which I always enjoy of how to shape and change my world , my classroom, those ideas. But those consistent things have really meant a lot to me when listening every week. So I've really, I've really enjoyed those things. I think as we spoke earlier about things that I'm in agreement with you that I would also like to see grow and change is the sound quality. I know some of that is you learning how to use the equipment and some of that. I know is also not Within your control, which I think is also something that we struggle with as theatre educators where you're standing back in the booth and children are on stage and you're like, Oh, who didn't turn their microphone on why why? And there's, there's nothing you can do about that. And so there's nothing you can do about whether somebody has good quality microphone, earphones, whatever on their end of things. So I think some of that is a balance on a learning curve as well.

Jimmy Chrismon:

I agree.

Miriam K.:

Your editing skills though have really grown because we've, we've talked a lot about what's been changed and edited and fixed in episodes and I think that the transitions have gotten really smooth and really nice. So I've, I've been enjoying that change in your skills cause I do know that tech isn't your strongest suit , but I have, I have enjoyed your growth in that a lot. What do you think? I know we can't pick favorites cause as teachers, we never get to pick favorites, but I want to know what's impacted you the most this season. Like what really hit you hard and was like the biggest eye opening moment for you of like, whoa.

Jimmy Chrismon:

Do I have to pick just one?

Miriam K.:

Yeah. I mean you could pick two but we can't sit here all night.

Jimmy Chrismon:

It's My podcast , I can do what I want .

Miriam K.:

I mean you can, but I don't know how you're going to edit it down.

:

I think one of the, one of the things that I've, I've gotten the most out of when I spoke with Ruthie Tutterow and she, she said something that like made so much sense, but I , I never thought of it and I just think that her phrasing of it was ideal. And I know you, you can understand the , the quote I'm about to say is, but when she said that what we do as theatre teachers , um, that it's a lifestyle, not just a career. Um, I, it that resonated with me and you and I have, we've shared some personal moments talking about our struggles when we were in the classroom. Um, and , and how that need for that balance and that need for the life outside of our school building and our theatre is so important and we know that, but we don't do that. And we don't let ourselves do that very well. Probably the biggest , um, the biggest, I don't know, less than or take away, I've had so far. I mean, I've, I've learned something from every single person. I've been able to take something away and even take back to my students and say, Hey, I got this great idea. I think you might want to hear about it. Either go listen to podcast or I'm just gonna ramble here about it. Cause I thought it was so cool. Um , so I think I've gotten something from everybody and , and, but I think that's been one of the biggest takeaways for me.

Miriam K.:

Do you have any moments that stick out to you from your time in the classroom? Either as a high school girl educator or now as a professor, fancy pants. Do you have anything that like really jumps out at you that changed who you were as an educator or a horror story or anything that, or both? We'll take both it's your podcast.

Jimmy Chrismon:

I have one that I've been wanting to share and I just haven't had a , a place to work it in in the dialogue with the people I've talked to. Um, one of my funniest stories and then I'll, I'll get to like a , like a life changing moment or an impactful moment. Um, but I had this advanced acting class and they, they had ticked me off and we were no longer going to do their class production because they could not handle it. So we did some, some research projects about some different , um, acting styles around the world. And , uh , one, one , two of my girls had , um , Japanese theatre and we, they were, they were talking, going on and on and , and as their presentation went on, like it just, like it was going completely off the rails. Like this is completely factually wrong. You're , you're wrong. I don't know what you researched but this is not it. And I interjected and I said, I said, ladies, I just, I said, cause this specific thing they were talking about like I wasn't fully well versed on, but I knew it wasn't right. And , and I was trying to relate it back to some, some just some common themes of, of Asian theatre, you know, of like of ritual and, and the honor of it. And the painstaking process of, of learning the craft. And so I was throwing those things out there and this one girl said, Mr Chrismon, I'm going to stop you right there. We're talking about Japan and not Asia. And the whole class just like slowly turn their head to look at me. Like what? And I said , I said, I said, yeah, I , I'm just offering you some , some things about other Asian forms of theatre. She said, Mr Chrismon, we're talking about Japan. We're not talking about Asia. I said, I said, all right ladies, carry on. And the whole rest of the room just slowly turned their heads back and what the rest of this presentation just completely go off the rails. Um , so that, that's one of my funnier moments , um, in the classroom at least. Um, God , kids do crazy things all the time. I did crazy things all the time. An impactful moment. I think I mentioned it in my , my conversation with Barbara was , uh, the, the year that we did Tarzan and that we , um, we, the kids talked me into entering into the Blumeys. Um, cause I , I hate theatre as competition. Um, and I , I, I, after participating in the Blumeys and seeing the work that it does, I, I truly appreciate the fact that it has elevated a lot of the high school theatre in the area. But I hate competition. And so they talked me into doing it and we did it. And then they talked me into not casting 50 people in the cast and only taking like the top 20. I did that, I listened to them and I did that. Um, but I think, I think that the conversations that went along with that , um, with that decision with the students and , um, really seeing how I didn't have to do 50 things at once, I could scale back. I could, I didn't have to do 12 shows that year. I could do 4 and be really content and do really solid work. I think lucky for me at that time as well was I was in my doc program and , um , my theatre company that, that I also had, The Edge at the time. Um, we, we kind of shut down because we lost our space. And I think that's, you know, whatever fates in the universe way of saying, hey, you need to focus on something and do it well. Um, and so I think all of that kind of happening in that year I think really, really helped me raise the bar of the work that I did with my kids and the why of the work that we were doing. So I think slowing down in and our friend Steven Gunderson tells me all the time that when I finally slowed down and , and cut back on what I was doing and really poured my energy into some really good work, really focused work. Like I think the quality of my directing and our productions went up. And, and I , I do attribute that to those students at that time. I mean, there was lots of very talented kids in that at that time and they wanted to elevate the work that they did. And I think they saw that as well. But yeah, we may not be doing 12 productions, but we're going to do four really solid ones. So I think, I think for me that meant that mental shift around that time that we did Tarzan was, was really impactful. And it's because of of the students coming to me and feeling comfortable enough to come to me and saying, let's do this.

Miriam K.:

It's really great that you created a space so well that students felt like they could come and talk to you and share concerns or ideas on how to improve things and feel that they would be listened to and not turned down. I think that's a testament to the program that you created. I know I've had the pleasure of being able to see a lot of shows when you were teaching at the high school that you were at. Um, I wasn't there when you started your program, but I did see a good chunk of change , um , at the beginning ish to the end. Um, and the growth and change in your shows. And I, you started saying that and I was like, really? Was there a change? And I really started thinking back through what I had seen and what was happening. And I think, I think you're right. Once you started to bring in your productions and do less and have less children, which I think is so hard for us because I think as theatre educators you want to bring in all the babies. Everybody needs to be on stage and everybody needs to do everything all the time, even if they're just a tree. And while I do think that there's a time and a place for that, I think sometimes there's not a time in a place for that, that in order to do quality work you , you have to make changes and not take everybody on stage , which is so, so hard sometimes for some of us to do. But I do think that our students respect that high quality of work and they want to be a part of that. And the students that aren't on stage always find some way to help. I've never had a student who wasn't cast in a show that wanted to be in the show, not find some way to insert themselves somewhere in that show daily if they wanted like, and you some days wish they wouldn't be there and you're like, please, like you're not, you're not in the play go away, but they're like, listen, I'm a be in this play whether you want me in this play or not.

Jimmy Chrismon:

Yeah. And I, and I don't , I don't want to , I'm not , I don't want to take away from the work that I did before Tarzan because I had no, I had a lot of work that I was very proud of and that my kids did amazing things. And, but I think, I think also with like you mentioned like the shift in the attitude of not just myself but in my kids as well , um , where one of my top kids didn't even make it in the ensemble of Tarzan. She wasn't cast. And like she was heartbroken and then a kid had to drop out and she was next on the list of the people who we would have cast. And I went to her and I said, do you want to , would you like to do it? And she was like, yes. And I was like, all right, you're going to be monkey number four to the left. Um, but that's an important part and I need this and your voice is what we need right now. So , um, but from that point on, even being in our ensembles felt like an honor to those kids, you know, just being a part of the show was important to them in any kind of way.

Miriam K.:

right. Yeah . I was program folder number four, but man, I folded. This program's great. And I think that that, I think that's, that goes beyond just the rehearsal process. I think that also is involved into your classroom space, that this is, this is a group of people that you want to be a part of and that you want to be a part of that community. And I think that kind of all rolls into that. So not necessarily the quality of show, but the quality of program I think would probably be a better way to say that.

Jimmy Chrismon:

Well, I also loved, I loved it performing with my kids too. I've, I've done that twice. Uh , the first time I played Charlemagne Pippin at Vance when I was teaching there, they, they asked me to do it and I did it. And I learned from that experience that at some point I have to become actor Mr Chrismon and not director, teacher everything Mr Chrismon because like I was giving them places and I hadn't even gotten to costume yet. Um , so like, I mean, just little things like that, but, but that they felt they wanted to meet me to be a part of that on the stage of the magic that they were creating.

Miriam K.:

I was about to say, I never saw you do anything else but you did it at Vance, which is like way before I existed in your world.

Jimmy Chrismon:

Well then I, and then at South Pointe I did Children of Eden with them and I was so honored they asked me to play Father and that was just the coolest thing to create that piece with them because it was such an ensemble piece and singing with some really special kids. And you know, them seeing me forget the first two lines of the opening song and on a like the second night of the show, they're like, how'd you forget that?

Miriam K.:

I do think it is important for your students to see you as a performer and not just as their educator because this is an ever changing craft . It's an ever changing field and it's so good for them to see how you got to be there and that you are actually good at what you do. And I know that as educators we don't always have a lot of time to go be in rehearsal for a play for something. What my former school started doing before I left was a fine arts night and the teacher started performing pieces in that. So our chorus teacher sang, while, our band teacher played a competent for Our her dance teacher, which we were lucky enough to have also a performed a solo. So I think those things are so important because your students always seem to drop their jaw when they see you perform . I remember , uh , we were working on inductions for the International Thespian Society and of course made your students perform either a monologue or a song. And we did mock auditions and this whole thing. And so we're going through all the kids and then we get to the end of the run of students and I get up front and I think they're expecting me to like, oh thank you and everything. And I just started my introduction of, hello, my name is Miriam Kuykendall and I'll be performing. And all of a sudden you just watch all their little faces go. You're , you're going to do a thing? We always ask you to do a thing and you'd never do a thing. And I think they're so hungry to see you put into practice all the things that you have been teaching them that it's such a great opportunity for them to see that in whatever way that you can make that happen. Whether it's performing with them, whether it's something at your community theatre, whatever it is, whether it's a small monologue, a small song in class one day, let them know that you do know what you're talking about.

Jimmy Chrismon:

Well, in like in , uh , like in my musical theatre class, I go in all my classes, I tell them, you know, I'm never going to ask you to do something that I wouldn't do myself. And one of my musical theatre classes, one year held me to that cause they had just finished , um, we were working on acting the song and I had them pick a pop song that they, that they liked that was not a storytelling song and that the person was confronting someone else about it. And then they had to stage it and like, they put me on the spot. They were like, all right, it's your turn. I'm like, all right. Pulled out my magic iPod, put on my song. And they were like, oh , oh, okay. So, yeah. Um, but, but I, I do , I agree with you completely. Them coming to see you practice what you're teaching them. And, and I think it's so important, but I also think it's super important that we as artists keep, keep our craft in practice for our own sanity and for, for our own love of the art. Because I mean, I love, I love directing adults. I love, I love acting with other adults. I love, you know, challenging myself to learn a dance step cause God knows I'm not a dancer and you know, being in a musical, I'm , I'm horrible at harmonies but challenging myself to, to do those things and to keep those skills, you know, constantly being improved and worked on. And I think that's so important for us because I think if we get so bogged down and locked into our theatres, we, we kind of forget . We don't forget the love the art that we have, but it diminishes, that light diminishes .

Miriam K.:

I think we forget the fun of the art. Yeah . Yeah . I think when you're in charge of all of the things, and even if you're a program of two theatre teachers, three that's three people that does the job of 20 or more, they have a whole team. And not only are you doing all those jobs, you are also in charge of this at least 20 to 30 children while you're doing it and managing their safety and the building and the concessions and the tickets, and you're managing all these things that you forget It's fun to only wear one hat. It's fun to be the director and that's it. It's fun to be the actor and that's it. Yeah, and I think we lose that fun that it is to be in a play. I, that's one of my favorite things. I worked with a fabulous teacher, Andy Rassler, and that was something that she always reminded her students of every show that she was in that friends, this is, it's a play and that's what we do. We play. And I, that was, I think that's such a, it's a thing that we as theatre educators, forget that it's , it's play, it's fun. It's fun to put on a costume and to be somebody else in this world that's so real but not, and we forget that as the keeper of, of all the keys, grades, papers, money, tickets, we forget to play sometimes. And I think that goes back to that self care.

Jimmy Chrismon:

Well, yeah. And we um, like I think I've said before that I , there was a time I realized that like my intro kids coming in that I had to teach them that it was okay to play again. And, and that, that took a couple of weeks. That took several weeks, maybe a month at the beginning of the semester before they, they were willing to let themselves play and be silly and , and just have fun. Um, and I think that's important that I think sometimes we, like you just said, we get bogged down in all the other stuff that we forget that too.

Miriam K.:

Back on track of your reflection. I feel like we've really sidetracked, you're going to have fun listening to this later and being like, oh , that had nothing to do with what we were talking about. What made you decide to do this podcast in the first place? What brought you here?

Jimmy Chrismon:

Yeah. I , um , uh , just finished my second year at ISU and I did, I did some methods classes at Winthrop before I came here. Um , as an adjunct faculty and there are all these books. There's all these books that you have in your methods classes of this is how you lesson plan. This is how you do this. This is the nuts and bolts. This is how you create a season. Um, which are all fantastic things that you have to know. But there was never a book to really get to the heart of what we do. And like there's, there was never a book that said teaching theatre is a lifestyle. There was never a book that said, you're going to have kids , um, let you know that they're wanting to kill themselves. And this is what you do in that situation. You know, that all the things that I , I wish there was a book, you know, I wish I had a book that, to tell me that you really can't have one, because when you're in it, it's a very different situation. Every situation is different. And I'm, I'm, I'm, I use the, the kid saying they want to kill themselves as, as one example, but I mean there's you know, there's countless others that are , that are like that. And so I wanted to have a place where those teachers could talk about those things and that also my students could hear those things from people who were still practicing. That was the first reason that I, I really, that's kind of like a book that's in the back of my head that I want to be written, have written one day, kind of a companion to those methods book that are out there. Almost like a Chicken Soup for the Soul. But for the chickens . Yeah , yeah, yeah. But, but I also, and I , I think I mentioned it during Barbara's , um, my interview with Barbara at the beginning of the season is that when she retired, that had a big impact on me. It was like, this is the person who's kind of been this legend in my mind for so long who's no longer doing this. And I wanted to find a way to capture those people's stories, my mentor stories initially. But these other theatre teachers that are out there that are doing amazing things with their kids and have legacies of careers and have, have just stories to tell. And I wanted a place for that to be. So I thought that, you know, to gather those things for a book, I'm going to have to interview people anyway. I'm going to have to go out and, and see their work. So I was like, I think this might be the easiest way for me to gather all those things together. And in the, in the process of doing that, I , I, I, a couple of the, the guests have told me off air that they really appreciated that there's a space now for them to go and there's a space where they don't feel like they're alone anymore in their classroom. That there's other people who are experiencing these things. There are other people who are giving advice and you know, we have, we have Facebook, we have Twitter, we have everything that we can go to on social media. But those aren't necessarily the voices, you know, you get the words and people can say what they want behind a keyboard. And sometimes those, those discussion groups turn into, you know, things that they shouldn't be like bashing each other and their work. And I wanted a place where we celebrated our work and we freely talked about what we do in the struggles that we have and the successes that we have. And Ooh, this is a great resource that you'd need to know about this. So that's , that's why I did it. And I think so far I'm being pretty successful. Again, I have things that I want to keep tweaking and making better, but I think it's doing what I wanted it to do and that makes me really proud.

Miriam K.:

What resource do you want to share with everybody that maybe hasn't been shared yet? You had to know that was coming. These are your questions.

Jimmy Chrismon:

So one that I loved using , um, and I am going to start using in my methods classes with my kids is a , um, it's called Basic Drama Projects and Perfection Learning , uh , publishes that. It's not a cheap resource but it's a fantastic resource. Uh , some schools have adopted it as their classroom texts . Um, but I, I just have a copy and I bought the teacher resource binder to go with it. Um, but it just really lays out the topics of what we teach. Um, a Pantomime unit, it lays out , uh, um, how to build an ensemble, how to , uh , you know, and they sprinkle in theatre history throughout each of the units so that you're getting just a little taste of it throughout everything you're doing. But, but I think for beginning teachers who are struggling to put their whole curriculum together , um , they know the big concepts to teach but don't necessarily know the details of getting to those big concepts. I think it's a great resource. Um , because it, the way it structures the each chapter is there's , there's information you get, you get the information, you get some of the vocabulary you get and then you start getting activities to build towards a final project with that. So , um, I think it, again, I don't, I don't recommend using textbooks necessarily, but, but for those teachers who are looking for those types of things, I think it's a great resource. I would , I would say that that's probably one of the , the ones that I , I can't recommend enough for, especially for beginning teachers. And I got it in the middle of my career. Like, I picked it up probably year 12, 13, when I was looking just to sort of revamp what I was doing in my intro classes because I had gotten bored with what I was doing and I , I needed to, I needed to mix things up because that was the , uh , at the point I was looking to, I was looking to be a radio DJ on Radio Disney. Um, I went and interviewed and I was almost hired for that and I was going to leave teaching in the middle of the year to go DJ on Radio Disney. I didn't do that. Um, yeah, yeah. Um, but, but I, around that time is when I got that book and it kind of helped me reinvigorate what I was doing in that class. You didn't know that, did you?

Miriam K.:

No, I didn't just the image of you as a Radio Disney just in my head.

Jimmy Chrismon:

I'll let you sit with that for a second. Okay .

Miriam K.:

How did I not know that?

Jimmy Chrismon:

I was so done with teaching? I was so dismayed. I and I, I took a half day, it took my lunch .

Miriam K.:

Radio Disney James?

Jimmy Chrismon:

They had a satellite station in Charlotte, I had a friend who , who worked for them and she got me an interview and I was on my way to be a DJ.

Miriam K.:

Well Radio Disney missed out sir .

Jimmy Chrismon:

I think so. But I was very happy sticking around. I think it worked out .

Speaker 1:

I'm going to remember that. That's going to pop back up a lot in conversation. I hope you're ready for that . Any parting words of wisdom to future teachers to people? Maybe trying to start a podcast? You've done a lot of different hats this season that I feel like you might have more to offer than just something to theatre educators or theatre students.

Jimmy Chrismon:

I'll , I'll do for both. Um, for , if you're looking to do a podcast, I would research, research, research. Um, Adam laughed at me because I was constantly googling new things about podcasting and the best equipment to get for beginning and where's the best hosting site, who's the best website provider and you know, and when I finally made the decision, he, he laughed at me, he was like, but I know it's a sound decision because you've researched so much. So take the time to really look into it and also know, know the time commitment that you're going to put into it. I would, I would love to see this grow so much more. Um, and I don't know, I don't know what else to do to get it out there. Um, but I think it's slowly, I think it's slowly building, which is great. I mean, goodness gracious, this is, I just finished the 15th episode. So, you know, I , I'm still a baby in this and I, and I hope that, I hope more people see what I'm doing and I , I know it's a niche market, but I , I think that's my advice is do the research and know what you're getting into know and do it right because I didn't want to do this and not do it right. I'm still learning and I have to, you have to give yourself room to keep learning.

Miriam K.:

I think what you , you said earlier that you did a lot of research. I know you and I have spoken a lot about how to continue growing. I know that you've got your listener survey out there so it's not like you started this podcast and then were like, okay, I'm perfect at it and I'm just going to keep on doing what I'm doing. I think there's definitely all these things that you're doing to continue to better yourself, to better the program and make sure that it does grow and change and evolve and you're not scared to get that constructive or the feedback on how to improve. And I think that's going to be very helpful in the future of this.

Jimmy Chrismon:

,Well that's true . I think my students now in , and even even when I was in the classroom, my, I am constantly asking for feedback. I'm constantly asking them, did you think this was a pointless assignment? Was, did you get anything out of it? I got a lot out of it planning it and I think it's cool, but if you didn't get anything out of it, then we're not going to do this again or I'm going to revamp it. So it's you get something out of it. And, and this is the same way. I mean, and we as artists, we , we crave that criticism. We crave that feedback to constantly get better. So I think it's just the nature of what we do. But I think it's also part of my philosophy as a teacher as well.

Miriam K.:

Words of wisdom for theatre educators ,

Jimmy Chrismon:

For theatre educators. Yes. Um, I had the, the really unique experience, the summer of working. Um, I don't want to give too much away but of of teaching theatre to some , um , to some struggling students. And , uh, it was a challenge. It was a challenge. I had been out of the classroom for two years. Um, and being back with high schoolers, it was a challenge , uh, reminding me of what classroom management is and, and how to relate to kids and you know, and how to talk with them. And especially for kids who have troubled pasts that, you know, sarcasm may not be the best way to get to them. And then also the work that I did with them, we did a devised, a devised piece , um, and that's hard work, devising theatre is hard work. And they did it. They, we, we had our performance tonight. Um, it went well. The kids were very proud of it and they, they seem to get a lot out of the time that we had together. But, but my advice , um, I say all that to say that you're, teachers are gonna have , um, parts of the job that are, they're not fun. Um, the, you're not going to always have a supportive administrator who bends over backwards to help you. Um, you're not gonna have amazing funding all the time. You're not going to have supportive parents all the time. Other teachers will probably not come to your shows most of the time. Um, but it's so super important to keep in mind who you're doing this for and who the work is for. And it's for those kids and it's to, to see, see their eyes light up when they get something to , to see the kid who wouldn't even say their name in front of the group at the beginning of the three weeks, perform a whole scene that they wrote tonight. Um, that's what it's about. Um , and all the other crap of school. I tell people all the time, I , I miss my kids. I don't miss the crap of school. Um, I , I want to be left with my kids. I want to go teach, I want to go make art with them. I don't, I don't want to do the other hoops, but hoops are part of what we do and we , we can't let that cloud our vision and, and keep us from enjoying what we're doing with our kids. So I think that's super important to keep. Remember your why you're there and who you're doing it for.

Miriam K.:

That's it. That's all my questions. That's it. That's the basis of a performance reflection. I think for anytime we did anything in class, those were my questions, but I knew we had a lot to reflect on over this season . I feel like we covered a lot of things in this, and I know I'm looking forward to you more episodes coming out in August and hearing all the things that we talked about and the changes that we're, that we , I'm not doing anything. All the changes you're going to be making that I'm going to be listening to and then calling you and telling you about later. I enjoy, I enjoy all of those things coming up in August, so I appreciate you sitting on the other side of things and taking time to let us be in your world versus you taking us on these great journeys to other people's worlds and other people's classrooms. Thank you for sitting down and chatting with me. I appreciate that. I look forward to doing this again at the end of next season.

Jimmy Chrismon:

All right. You're my go to person . This is, this has been neat. Um, uh , and I, I typically always get an email after, after an interview with someone I was saying, oh my gosh, that was so much fun. That was really cool to talk about what I love and it is, it was very cool to talk about what I've learned, what I've, what I'm doing, what I love and what I've learned. So thank you for pushing me to do this because this was not my idea.

Miriam K.:

That's what I'm here for, I hope that everybody has a no , but I hope, I think that's something that I hope that everybody has is their teacher buddy that they go and they talk to of, Hey, can you tell me if this is a bad idea or that pushes you to do things differently or better. I know that we all have that teacher friend of, Hey, can you read this parent email before I send it? Um, so it's, it's important to have that kind of person I think in your school building that you can go find and talk to that works with you to help you be a better person. And so , uh , I know I'm not in your school building, but I, I want to see you, this be successful. And so sometimes that takes making sure that you sit down and take a minute to pause and talk about what went well, what didn't go well, why it didn't go well, and what you're going to do differently for next time. So I appreciate you being open and honest about that.

Jimmy Chrismon:

I appreciate you pushing me to do it. So thank you. And that ladies and gentlemen is a wrap for season one of THED Talks. Thank you so much for listening to this first season. I do hope you plan on , um, listening over the summer. If you are just now catching on and just now having time to listen to things, please keep doing that, make your way through all 16 episodes and uh, please be looking for new episodes starting in mid August when we are all heading back to school. Um , you can find all of the show notes, our archives, our transcripts, and all of the lists from our guests of their resources and their recommendations all on my website, www.thedtalks.com. Please go on to your favorite podcast provider, Apple Podcasts, iTunes, Google Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, Stitcher, Soundcloud, Anypod, Tunein all your favorite places.

Speaker 3:

Find THED Talks, subscribe to the show, rate us, review us, leave us some comments , uh, let people know , uh , what we're about and what you're liking. And also share the podcast with those theatre teachers in your life who you think can benefit from what I'm doing here. Again, you can email me a thedtalkspodcast@gmail.com if you have comments, suggestions for guests, suggestions to make the show better. Um , if you want to be a guest , let me know. Uh, you can find us on Twitter @ theatre edtalks on Tumblr at thedtalks.tumblr .com on Facebook at THED Talks Instagram @thedtalkspodcast and of course our website. Again, www.thedtalks.com. Thank you to Joel Hamlin and Joshua Shusterman for the use of your original song Magnetize this season. I really, really appreciate it.

Jimmy Chrismon:

Thank you Mimi Kuykendall for taking the time to talk with me and pushing me to do a good reflection of the first season and to continue to grow with what I'm doing. I appreciate your friendship. I appreciate you as a colleague and I appreciate you taking the microphone and taking the questions away from me. And I want to thank you. Thank you for sticking it out this first bit. Please join us again in August and please, please, please enjoy your summer. Thanks for listening. Take care.

Jimmy Chrismon Profile Photo

Jimmy Chrismon

Host and Creator, Educator, and Director

Dr. Jimmy Chrismon is a theatre educator with 17 years of experience in the public schools of North and South Carolina. He currently teaches full time as an Assistant Professor of Theatre Teacher Education at Illinois State University. He was an adjunct theatre faculty member at Winthrop University and Central Piedmont Community College. He has acted, directed, designed, and produced professionally for 24 years. He received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Theatre Education from The University of North Carolina at Charlotte where he was a North Carolina Teaching Fellow. He received his Master of Education Degree in Theatre Education from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He most recently completed his Doctor of Education Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Gardner-Webb University. His dissertation was entitled “A Study of Theatre Teacher and School Administrator Perceptions of Traits, Characteristics, and Instructional Practices and Their Possible Role in Teacher Evaluation.” He has also worked for The Children’s Theatre of Charlotte and The Lake Norman School of the Arts. He currently resides in Bloomington, Illinois.
Dr. Chrismon received the 2022 Johnny Saldana Outstanding Professor of Theatre Education from The American Alliance for Theatre and Education.
Dr. Chrismon’s acting credits include: Lonely Planet, Doubt: A Parable, Company, The History Boys, Godspell, Shadow Box, The Baltimore Waltz, Tick, tick..Boom!, The Little Shop of Horrors, The Odd Couple, Children of Eden, Candide, The Miser, The Good Woman of Setzuan, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, The Altruists, The Crucible, Dracula, The Lion, the Witch, and The Wardrobe, and others.
His directing credits include: Guys and Dolls, The Electric Baby, Seussical: The Musical, Godspell, Miss Nelson Is Missing, Rent, Spring Awakening, The Importance of Being Earnest, Children of Eden, Tarzan, Aida, All Shook Up, Grease, The Odd Couple, Lonely Planet, Interrupting Vanessa, Medea, the Wizard of Oz, A Raisin in the Sun, A Very Common Procedure, Geography Club, You’re a Good Man, Charlie, Brown, The Laramie Project, The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later, and others.
His professional affiliations include The American Alliance for Theatre Education, The Illinois Theatre Association, The Southeastern Theatre Conference, and The Educational Theatre Association.